Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson. What do you say about a movie like this? Within the first five minutes, I was tempted to turn it off. Movies about music can be really hit or miss (to put it lightly), and a movie about an aspiring musician trying to crack it into the big time, with his own lame songs, etc, is really walking on thin ice for me. But the fact that his twee little songs sucked, and were supposed to suck, gave me hope that this might be a funny and original take on the journey of musicians in general. And I mean, instantly, as soon as you see Michael Fassbender in that crazy head, you know it’s definitely going to be original. For me, the danger with this movie was that it always seemed a few feet from falling off the cliff of unbearably twee “quirkiness”—again like Michel Gondry (sorry to pick on him lately, but he’s just so exemplary of this)—and I was ready to have to abandon this damn thing at any moment. Why didn’t I? For starters, there were enough funny moments and funny lines, with Frank’s bizarre self expression, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s murderous anger at the sweet, twee, naive idiot at the centre, Domhnall Gleeson. The film seemed to know that this guy at the centre had to be our lifeline into this bizarre world, but they also knew that this guy would be fucking insufferable to most of us. And the fact that (spoilers!) he has to walk away from the band at the end, leaving them in better shape than when he found them, makes this a really nice movie. The really big thing that gives me a good impression of this film is the fact that the music is actually not half bad. It’s a hard thing when a film is based on the assumption that the songs are brilliant, like Inside Llewyn Davis (whose songs I found passable but pretty generic), but here, there’s always a question mark: is this band any good? Maybe not. And their claims to brilliance are always surrounded by brackets and quote marks and jokes, so you’re able to keep the songs at arm’s length. Then, at the end, the final song that Frank makes up in that bar, starts rolling along and—no kidding—it’s actually a pretty cool song! And somehow, with this movie, that makes all the difference between this being a so-so whatever movie, and a pretty nice, enjoyable little “cult” comedy. So the short version is: I liked it! Long term—I guess I better look into Frank Sidebottom, between this and a little bit in Filth, he’s too tantalizingly bizarre not to investigate.